November 25, 2008. Barry Cauchon.
Hi all: Every week, I receive a number of emails at email@example.com. Sometimes I post the Q&As for your benefit. Here are a few that came in this month.
This one is from Laura…
Q. Barry, I thank you for your very informative blog! I’m wondering if you can point me in the direction of an image of Mary Lincoln’s dress from 14 April,1865. I had heard that the Chicago Historical Society owns it, but they only list the cape, not the entire dress. I’d appreciate any help you can give. Thank you, Laura.
A. Hi Laura: Thanks for writing me. You are correct that the cape is at the Chicago Historical Society. Unfortunately, I am unfamiliar with whatever happened to the dress Mrs. Lincoln was wearing that night.
After the assassination, she spent the evening at the Peterson House and did not leave until they removed her husband’s body and transported it back to the White House on the morning of April 15.
According to the autobiography of Elizabeth Keckley, who was a slave and then eventually Mrs. Lincoln’s seamstress and confident, the dress was given to a Mrs. Slade. Here is the exerpt from her book called “Behind the Scenes” or “Thirty years a slave, and Four Years in the White House” In Chapter XII, “Mrs. Lincoln Leaves the White House”, page 89.
“In packing, Mrs. Lincoln gave away everything intimately connected with the President, as she said that she could not bear to be reminded of the past. The articles were given to those who were regarded as the warmest of Mr. Lincoln’s admirers. All of the presents passed through my hands. The dress that Mrs. Lincoln wore on the night of the assassination was given to Mrs. Slade, the wife of an old and faithful messenger. The cloak, stained with the President’s blood, was given to me, as also was the bonnet worn on the same memorable night. Afterwards I received the comb and brush that Mr. Lincoln used during his residence at the White House. With this same comb and brush I had often combed his head. When almost ready to go down to a reception, he would turn to me with a quizzical look: “Well, Madam Elizabeth, will you brush my bristles down to-night?”
So Laura, this is a start. I will definitely look into it further but unfortunately I don’t have any immediate information on the whereabouts of the dress. The Smithsonian has several of Mrs. Lincoln’s dresses (one of which is going to be on display in the new exhibit that they will be opening on January 16, 2009 called Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life. But their literature does not mention that they own the dress worn during the assassination. Please let me know what you find out and perhaps we will discover the location of the dress together. Wouldn’t that be exciting.
On another note, are you a student or teacher Laura? Let me know a little bit about your background and interest in the dress. I always enjoy knowing about the people who are interested in a specific part of history.
Barry, I thank you very much for your help. I will look into the Smithsonian exhibit. A little about my background – I am a librarian in Northern Illinois who has recently decided to start First-Person Interpretation of Mary Lincoln. I have a solid theatrical background, as well as a number of friends who are active in Civil War Reenactments. They are pointing me in the right directions. I already have three bookings in February 09, and am putting together my presentation and my clothing. Thanks again, Laura
NOTE FROM BARRY: I am keeping in touch with Laura to see how it goes. It sounds like a great idea and I hope one day shortly I’ll do a blog on her efforts. Stay tuned.
This one is from Ernest…
Q: Can you give me the references for the 15 people who turned down Lincoln’s invitation? Thanks Ernest .
NOTE FROM BARRY: Ernest is referring to an article I did on the 15 people that turned down Abraham Lincoln’s invitation to join him at Ford’s Theatre on the night of the assassination.
A: Hi Ernest. Thanks for the question. There are several references for this information but the one I used was from “Lincoln: A Picture History”by Philip B. Jr Kunhardt; Philip B. III Kunhardt; Peter W. Kunhardt (1992) which is the first biography to make use of the photographs from the huge Meserve collection. I believe the 15 people named are to be found in one of the many sidebars that are included in the book.
When you read that 15 people actually turned down the President of the United States for a personal evening out with him, it initially makes you take pause. However, it has to be remembered that it was Good Friday of a long weekend so many people already had plans. As well, some of the wives who were invited did not want to be in the company of Mary Todd Lincoln whose temperment did not suit them very well. Even Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert turned him down because he had just gotten back from the serving with General Grant and was too tired to go out that night. It may seem very logical when you dig into it, but still….15 people invited and 15 regrets. Makes you wonder. Best Barry
…and this one came from Linda
Dear Sir: I am in possession of a glass negative and print of President Lincoln that I believed to be taken four days before his death. Reading your comments has clarified when and where the picture was taken. It is exposure # 3 #0-116 . Do you know if there is a market for this glass negative which appears to be in very good shape or for the print which is in pristine condition? Sincerely Linda.
Hi Linda: Nice to meet you. Can you tell me a little more about the photo’s background?
1. Is the image on the glass plate negative or positive? 2. What size is the glass plate? 3. How long have you had the glass plate and the print? 4. Where did you get the items from? 5. Is there any authenticated background history on the glass plate?
The photo you are referring to was taken on February 5, 2008 by Alexander Gardner. Gardner shot many of his photographs using a collodion glass-plate process, but I personally do not know if this process was used for this photo session. Assuming it was, the sizes were very specific for these types of photographs so that is why I asked about the size of the plate. As far as the historical record states, only one photo of Lincoln was taken in the pose (O-116) rather than having Lincoln sit still for a second exposure. Therefore, only one actual glass plate was produced. I do not know if the original glass plate is in the collection of a museum or the Library of Congress (or none of them). If what you have is the original glass plate for photo O-116 it would be quite a find for the Lincoln community. I can assist you in getting the glass plate verified but these folks would need to know its history as mentioned above. Have you taken photographs of the glass plate and the print? If so, would you be able to forward me the pictures? With your permission, I can forward them to someone who would certainly be able to comment on their authenticity. But please be aware that there is tremendous skeptisism in the Lincoln community about fraudulent photographs. It doesn’t mean that the photos are modern fakes. Many were created in the late 1800’s. I recently assisted one person with identifying a photograph which they thought was a genuine image of Lincoln after death. It turned out that it was a 19th century fake which had been seen before. But now the amazing thing is that he owns the original fake. So you never know what you have in your attic! Anyway, if I can help you to solve the mystery Linda, I’d be happy to try. Have a great evening. Best Barry
NOTE FROM BARRY: At this point in our correspondence I’ve done some editing because I refer Linda to several sources which, for their privacy, I keep confidential.
Hi Linda: I sent your photos to <deleted> and he suggests that the <glass negative> seems too ‘pristine’ to be an original. If it was an original it would be 143 years old which would definitely show age and yellowing. He did not know if the original still exists and if it is in someone’s collection (such as the Library of Congress). So he believes, like me, that it’s a copy. Again, it may still have value as a copy. There is an artist by the name of James Nance who took that exact photograph and digitally colorized it. Now he sells a limited print of the colorize version from anywhere between $135.00 for the signed print up to just under $500.00 for a framed version. I would say that with some patience you could probably get up to $<deleted> for the glass negative. Write a good solid history of the photograph, indicate that it is a copy of the original and see what happens. 2009 will be a better market once Lincoln’s birthday on February 12 hits. <deleted>. Have a great day. Best Barry
1. Did you know … that Abraham Lincoln was ripped, buff and a very muscular stud muffin! It’s true. Considering his height and posture, one would think this was not the case. However, based on observations by Gideon Welles, the Secretary of the Navy, who spent the last hours with the mortally injured President at the Peterson House …
“The giant sufferer lay extended diagonally across the bed, which was not long enough for him. He had been stripped of his clothes. His large arms, which were occasionally exposed, were of a size which one would scarce have expected from his spare appearance….”.
2. Did you know … that Robert Lincoln, who died in 1926, was not buried with Abraham Lincoln, his mother, and three brothers. Instead he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
To see the entire series, click here “SUMMARY OF THE “DID YOU KNOW” ABRAHAM LINCOLN SERIES (Parts 1-15)”
If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by three Lincoln experts:
UPDATED: July 29, 2013: Hi all: Thanks to some great comments and observations from my readers, I’ve made a couple of changes to the article.
TO MY READERS: If you know the location of any artifacts related to the assassination, conspirators and trial, execution, etc. that are not on this list, then please let me know and I will be happy to include your submittal, once confirmed.
NOTE: The new listings are preceded by the designations (NEW-KSHS) Original Posting: August 3, 2008 – Barry Cauchon
Here is a list of locations where Lincoln Assassination / Aftermath Artifacts can be found in public institutions. Many more remain in private collections which are not listed here. If you know of any items that I’ve missed, please let me know and I’ll gladly add them to the list.
1. Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana http://studebakermuseum.org/
- Carriage that the Lincoln’s took to Ford’s Theatre on the night of the assassination
2. National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, DC http://www.nmhm.washingtondc.museum/
- The ball (bullet) that killed President Lincoln recovered during the autopsy.
- Skull fragments from Lincoln recovered during the autopsy.
- The probe used by Dr. Barnes to remove the ball and skull fragments from Lincoln’s injury during the autopsy.
- John Wilkes Booth’s 3rd, 4th and 5th Cervical (Neck) Vertebrae (showing the path of the bullet that killed him)
- (NEW RN) – Blood stained cuffs from the lab coat worn by Dr. Edward Curtis (assistant surgeon who, along with Dr. Woodward, performed the autopsy on President Lincoln).
3. Smithsonian Institute – National Museum of American History http://americanhistory.si.edu/news/factsheet.cfm?key=30&newskey=946
Although not assassination artifacts, here are a pair of cast hands and two plaster Life Masks made from 1st generation molds taken from Lincoln during his life. The original molds were made by two different artists, Leonard Volk and Clark Mills.
- A pair of cast hands and the first Life Mask made in 1860 by Leonard Volk just prior to Lincoln’s nomination for president at the Republican convention.
- The second was made by Clark Mills on February 11, 1865 just two months prior to Lincoln’s assassination.
- Lincoln’s Top Hat that he wore to Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865.
- Drum and drumsticks used during the funeral parades for President Lincoln in late April, 1865
- Canvas hood used to cover the head of one of the seven male conspirators during captivity. On April 25, 1865, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton ordered that the heads of all the conspirator prisoners be convered with a canvas hood. Only an opening in the area of the mouth and nose allowed breathing and eating. The hoods were worn 24 hours a day until June 6, 1865 when Major General John Hartranft, Special Provost Marshal in charge of the prisoners and execution had them removed. He felt that the prisoners were suffering too much because of the hoods. Mary Surratt was not required to wear the hood for fear that public indignation would be strong.
4. Library of Congress, Washington, DC http://www.loc.gov/index.html
- The contents of Lincoln’s pockets from the night of the assassination. Some of these items include: nine newspaper clippings, a pair of spectacles and a pair of reading glasses and their cases, a lens polisher, a watch fob, a pocket knife, a brown leather wallet containing a Confederate $5.00 note and a linen hankerchief.
- The playbill from the April 14, 1865 performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre
5. Chicago History Museum http://www.chicagohistory.org/
- Lincoln’s deathbed originally from the Peterson House located across the street from Ford’s Theatre. Lincoln was so tall, he had to be laid diagnally across this bed to fit
- Other furniture from the Peterson house includes a rocking chair, bureau, candlestick, engraving, and gas jet
- Mary Todd Lincoln’s blood-stained cape that she wore on April 14, 1865
- Padded hood used by one of the male conpirators while in captivity after the assassination
- John Wilkes Booth’s derringer used to shoot President Lincoln
- Booth’s knife and sheath used to stab Major Rathbone on the night of the assassination
- Booth’s boot and spur
- Inner door where Booth had carved a small peep hole to see the President prior to assassinating him.
- Wooden stick used by Booth to wedge the outer door shut to the Presidential Box.
- The dress coat that Lincoln wore to the theatre that night.
- A chair from the box where the Lincoln’s were seated. Possibly it is the one that Mary Todd Lincoln sat on that night next to her husband http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/11/AR2005121101005.html
- Dr. Mudd’s medical kit
- John Wilkes Booth Compass and Diary
- Wanted Poster
- US Treaury Guards Flag from Presidential Box which Booth’s spur caught on when he jumped to the stage.
- Original Framed portrait of George Washington from the Presidential Box
7. Peterson Home, Washington, DC. (Note: This is a National Parks Service site across the street from Ford’s Theatre. The Peterson Home does not have it’s own website but here is the NPS site) http://www.nps.gov/foth/
- The house itself is a protected landmark by the National Park Service. It is the place where Lincoln was taken after being shot at Ford’s Theatre (just across the street). Lincoln died at 7:22am on April 15 in the first floor bedroom
The following two artifacts are currently on display at the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka, KS in an exhibit called Lincoln in Kansas. The show is currently on and runs until July 26, 2009. These two artifacts are normally not on display and have been brought out for this specific exhibition.
- Blood splattered playbill fragment picked up by patron at Ford’s Theatre on the night of the assassination.
- Section of the gallows crossbeam used to hang the four condemned Lincoln conspirators (Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold and George Atzerodt).
12. Historical Society of Quincy and Adams Counties, Illinois http://www.adamscohistory.org/
Note: These items are not on public display (see video news story link below)
Padded hood worn by one of the male Lincoln conspirators during their 2 months in captivity
Manicles worn by Lincoln conspirators
Keys to the conspirators’ jail cells
13. Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia http://www.collphyphil.org/mutter.asp
(NEW-RN) Tissue from John Wilkes Booth cervical vertebrae (originally labeled as part of his thorax)
14. Lincoln Room Museum in the Wills House, Gettysburg, PA. http://willshousegettysburg.com/
(NEW-RN) Hair sample from Abraham Lincoln’s autopsy.
15. Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana http://www.in.gov/ism/
(NEW-RN) Hair sample from Abraham Lincoln’s autopsy (Note: This item was part of the Lincoln collection obtained from the Lincoln Museum, Ft. Wayne, IN which closed in June/08).
16. Weldon Petz Abraham Lincoln Collection, Plymouth Historical Society & Museum, Plymouth, Michigan http://www.plymouthhistory.org/lincoln.html
(NEW-RN & Dan Parker Plymouth Historical Museum) – Hair sample donated by Surgeon General Barnes family. Hair was culled from Abraham Lincoln’s during the initial exploration of the president’s wound after being shot.
Additional assassination artifacts (tbd)
17. Huntington Library, San Marino, California
(NEW-BH) – Lewis Powell’s knife used in the attack on Secretary of State William Seward on April 14, 1865.